Inhibitory spillover: Increased urination urgency facilitates impulse control in unrelated domains

Mirjam A. Tuk, Debra Trampe, Luk Warlop

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    Visceral states are known to have a (detrimental) impact on our ability to exert self-control. In the current research, we investigate the impact of a visceral factor associated with inhibition, rather than with approach: bladder control. We argue that inhibitory signals are not domain specific, but can spill over to unrelated domains, resulting in increased impulse control in the behavioral domain. We show that urination urgency correlates with improved performance on color naming but not word meaning trials of a Stroop task (Study 1). In Study 2 and 3, we show that higher levels of bladder control result in an increasing ability to resist more immediate temptations in monetary decision making. We show that inhibitory spillover effects are moderated by sensitivity of the behavioral inhibition system (BIS, Study 3), and can be induced by exogenous cues (Study 4). Implications for inhibition and impulse control theories are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherSocial Science Research Network (SSRN)
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Publication series

    PublisherKU Leuven, Faculty of Business and Economics


    • Impulse control
    • Inhibition
    • BIS
    • Bladder control
    • Intertemporal choice
    • Stroop task


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